Let me tell you a story — I promise you that it is relevant to a continuing racial issue today.

In the early 1950s, my brother Charles and I returned to San Antonio with our parents after Dad’s assignments in other states as a member of the U.S. Army Air Corps and, later, the U.S. Air Force. Although we lived in military housing on Randolph Air Force Base, my brother and I — as “coloreds” — could not attend the elementary school on Randolph, located only a few blocks from our home. The school district was racially segregated.

So the Air Force bused us to St. Peter Claver School, a “Negro” Catholic school on the near East side. After the U.S. Supreme Court in 1954 declared separate-but-equal public education unconstitutional, Catholic and other parochial schools suddenly decided that racial segregation was not a religiously acceptable concept. As a result, Charles and I were the first blacks (the label “African American” is too pretentious to me) to integrate St. Peter Prince of the Apostles School in Alamo Heights.

I tell you this story because it may surprise you that, despite all the humiliation of legalized racial segregation, Jim Crow laws, lynchings, name-calling and physical and psychological assaults of that era, I oppose affirmative action programs.

While well-meaning and supported by many good people to achieve racial diversity and so-called “leveling of the playing field,” I believe such programs contribute to the continuance of racial discrimination.

Let me explain.

Affirmative action based on race (or gender, or ethnicity, or religion, or nationality, etc.) is inherently discriminatory since it provides an avenue for more qualified applicants to be passed over in hiring and college selection. It “un-levels” rather than levels the playing field.

Affirmative action programs attempt to redress past racial injustices by raising the number of minorities in professional positions and academic institutions to achieve some amorphous “critical mass” that would have existed had those injustices not existed. Does anyone believe that this theoretical “critical mass” will ever be achieved?

Past injustices can never be redressed — not black slavery, not the Holocaust, not the summary internment of Japanese Americans, and not the indignities inflicted in the past, present or the future.

Affirmative action, through racial preferences, uses racial discrimination to combat racial discrimination! It is hypocrisy. And, it is unnecessary — diversity can be achieved in many innovative ways.

I applaud the initiative at the University of Texas at Austin of accepting the top 10 percent of high school class graduates for 75 percent of its undergraduate admissions — regardless of the majority race or ethnicity of each school’s students.

It is well established that high academic achievers and school leaders exhibit high academic achievement and leadership in college, no matter their economic, social and educational environments.

Finally, affirmative action implicitly and not so subtly declares that racial and ethnic minorities do not generally have the capability to achieve professional and educational success on their own. It says that some in our society cannot — without the suffocating intrusion of state and federal governments — achieve what good, proactive, and attentive parenting, strong work ethic and gut determination have motivated countless minorities to achieve.

That view is abominable and offensive. I reject it.

Do racial, ethnic, gender, and other forms of discrimination still exist? Of course and always will at some level. But hypocrisy will not help us achieve the laudable goal of workplace and campus diversity.

As a society, we are better than that.